Trailer for “Veronica Mars” movie

Uber-cute blondie Kristen Bell will be back soon in the new “Veronica Mars” movie, and the trailer has just hit the web. Judge for yourself whether it’s worth seeing, though we expect the Veronica Mars fans to hit the theaters in droves.

You can also see the lovely Kristen Bell in a racier role in “House of Lies” on Showtime, with Season 3 premiering on Sunday, January 12th. Kristen plays a promiscous management consultant who is willing to use sex for career advancement. In Season 1 she had a pretty awesome private dance scene in a hotel room wearing only skimpy lingerie, but she had to tone things down in Season 2 as she was pregnant during filming.

So fans of this blonde hottie will have plenty to watch in 2014. Enjoy!

  

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If you’re looking for a surprise at the box office…

…I suggest you got to the front of your local multiplex, remove your pants, sing “La Cucaracha” at the top of your voice, and see what happens. You certainly won’t get anything too unexpected from the weekend’s movie grosses based on what I wrote Thursday night.

Avatar

According to Box Office Mojo , once again the 3-D science fiction fable that just won’t quit, “Avatar” continues to “hold” fabulously for Fox and is down only 14.1% from last weekend for a very nice total of $30 million in its seventh week atop the box office. Jolly Carl DiOrio reminds us, however, that while James Cameron‘s previous “Titanic” record is about to be demolished in terms of raw cash, that mega-blockbuster stayed on top of the box office for an astonishing 15 weekends. (I’m glad I wasn’t writing these back in 1997-8; I might have gone insane from the repetition.) Of course, all it takes to end the record is one really sizable new hit movie to make into the high twenties or low thirties. We’ll see.

For now, that sizable new hit remains a mere phantom. This week’s silver medalist is the thriller “Edge of Darkness, starring Mel Gibson” The film managed an estimated $17.12 million in 3,066 theaters for Warners, making for an unexciting per screen average of $5,584. This is not a terrible performance, but given the film’s $80 million budget, it ain’t great. Some of you (you know who you are) may recall that, when the space opera “Serenity” opened with about $10 million some years back, it was deemed a fairly major disappointment with a budget of less than half that much. Ol’ Sugar Tits and company are going to have to hold on very well at the box office in subsequent weeks if he wants this to be seen as anything resembling the start of an acting comeback.

Kristen Bell in
Speaking of movies related to great-but-canceled television shows with high geek appeal, what does it mean that, just as I was starting to write this post, the Dandy Warhols’ “We Used to Be Friends” came on the Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf’s Muzak? Yes, the theme to “Veronica Mars” put me in mind of the performance of the critically drubbed romantic comedy “When in Rome.” Still, the appeal of former TV teen detective Kristen Bell may have counted for enough to get the film a non-terrible estimated opening weekend of $12+ million for Disney, which might be enough, or not, depending on the budget.

There was some interesting blowback from prior weeks. Last week’s surprising situation where the killer-angel film “Legion” came in at a strong #2 with over $28 million, defeating the family appeal of Fox’s “The Tooth Fairy” was reversed this week. The PG-rated Dwayne Johnson comedy vehicle stayed in the #4 position and earned an estimated $10 million dropping a relatively very modest 28% in its second week. “Legion” from Screen Gems sank by a whopping 61.1% and came in at the #6 spot, beneath “The Book of Eli,” with only an estimated $6.8 million.

The only other news of much note is the strong performance of the slowly expanding country-music themed drama, “Crazy Heart” — featuring a multi-award-winning performance by Jeff Bridges that really seems like an Oscar lock. In 239 theaters as of this weekend, the film earned one of the weekend’s best per-screen averages ($9,414) for an estimated total of $2.25 million. That will be sweet, soulful music to the ears of the suits of Fox Searchlight.

1111045_CrazyHeart_scene_03

  

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Why do I even bother to write new headlines for the box office previews?

When the same frickin’ movie tops the box office office charts every single week for seven damn weeks in a row, I mean, why even bother to make movies if you’re name isn’t James Cameron? Okay, that may be taking it way too far, but jolly Carl DiOrio has once again stated that “Avatar” is once again on track to top the weekend’s box office with something in the neighborhood of $25 million. Who am I to argue?

Still, in a world where old fashioned movie star status still seemed to mean something commercially — and where Mel “Sugar Tits” Gibson (see yesterday’s post), hadn’t eroded his appeal through some bad/hypocritical behavior and an acting hiatus of several years — “Edge of Darkness” would, at least, be giving the Na’vi a run for their blue money. It’s a movie version of a BBC miniseries originally directed by busy helmer Martin Campbell, who also directed this outing and the screenplay is co-written by William Monahan, who did such a brilliant job adapting the strong but somewhat thin Hong Kong hit, “Infernal Affairs,” into the outstanding “The Departed” for Martin Scorsese.

Mel It’s worth noting, however, that in that case Monahan was allowed to flesh out a stripped down shorter script into more of an epic length tale and, in this case, he and fellow scribe Andrew Bovell are pairing down a miniseries into a vastly shorter feature length film. The reviews so far are acceptable but unexciting. It’s at 59% “fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes and the general vibe I’m getting is a slightly more positive than usual “meh.” Not exactly the huge comeback MSTG could really use if he wants to be a big time movie star again, rather than just a controversial director.

Now, if there’s anyone new out there who deserves to suddenly become a big time movie star, it’s Kristen Bell. However, there’s something about “When in Rome” that has critics sharpening their most negative adjectives despite their affection for Bell as TV’s “Veronica Mars,” among other terrific performances. Certainly our own David Medsker dislikes the film as much as he likes Bell, and that 10% Rotten Tomatoes rating indicates he’s not alone, and the film’s strong supporting cast doesn’t seem to have helped any. The director is Mark Steven Johnson who is really proving t be no directing genius. He made “Ghost Rider” and, though our own Jason Zingale had some kind words for it, the utterly lacking “Daredevil.” As Stan Lee would say, “’nuff said.”

Jolly Carl DiOrio predicts that both the K-Bell and Sugar Tits Gibson films will do something in the “low to mid-teen millions” though from very different audiences. Sure, why not?

K-Bell deserves better!

  

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TCA Tour: The Deep End

Legal dramas come and legal dramas go, with some succeeding admirably (congrats to Julianna Marguiles for her Golden Globes win for her performance on CBS’s “The Good Wife”) and some failing miserably (stand up, please, TNT’s critically-berated “Raising the Bar”), but they’re a proven commodity, so it’s rarely a surprise to hear that another one’s being rolled out. Tonight brings the premiere of ABC’s latest contribution to the genre, “The Deep End,” and when the cast and producers of the series sat still for their panel during the TCA press tour, it was only to be expected that someone would ask them if they’re bringing anything new to the table.

“I kind of see this show as kind of the reboot of the legal show,” said executive prodcer David Hemingson. “I think if you go all the way back in television history, back to ‘Perry Mason’ and ‘The Defenders’ and certainly the incredible job that Steven Bochco did with ‘L.A. Law,’ and David E. Kelley, there’s a rich tradition. Like with medical shows, there’s a rich tradition of legal shows, but I think there’s never been a legal show that has taken it from the perspective of these newly minted lawyers, these newbees, these kids who’ve come out and they’re confronting the reality of their practice for the first time and they’re being dropped into this intensely political, highly charged environment and also, you know, having the partners kind of reflecting on how they’ve changed in relation to the kids. So I think the interpersonal aspects of the show, I think the comedy of the show, the sexiness of the show, the fun of the show is something we haven’t quite seen, especially from a 20-something perspective. And when you consider the fact that it’s also sort of conflated with some really realistic kind of ripped-from-the-headlines cases that we’re doing, I think it distinguishes itself from anything that’s been on thus far. At least, we hope it does.”

Hemingson also acknowledged that the timing couldn’t have been more perfect to get the series onto ABC. “I would say it was sort of like a confluence of circumstances or a wonderful moment,” he said, “because I actually started out as a lawyer coming from New York to L.A. some years ago, and it was a story that I always wanted to tell, a story very near and dear to my heart. And I felt like with a couple of decades I had some perspective and it just so happened that it coincided with ABC’s need for new drama, a new dramedy. And so the stars kind of aligned for us, and I just feel fortunate to be doing it this way with Jan and with this fantastic cast.”

Of that cast, the face that will likely leap out to most viewers is Billy Zane, who gets yet another opportunity to tear into a larger-than-life character as Cliff Huddle. Someone immediately made the observation that the actor’s name rhymes with another famous TV lawyer (Denny Crane), but it’s apparently complete coincidence.

“This character was based on someone that came directly out of David’s experience,” revealed Zane. “Now, obviously, we have the flesh and bone and the odd bit of spin on the free throw, but it’s all there. This is writing at its best, which is why we’re all here and, I think, is a testament to what hopefully will be the success of this show and what people will find endearing and identifiable about the characters. As repellent and attractive and inspired as they are, you cannot wait to see what they’re going to do next.”

Hemingson quickly clarified Zane’s statement about the source of his character’s inspiration. “I practiced basically as an attorney for three years, three months, two days…but who’s counting?” he asked, rhetorically. “It was definitely one of the transformative experiences of my life, and I got to know a lot of really supercharged personalities, (but) the lawyer’s answer would be that any resemblance to any character living today is purely coincidental.”

That’s probably the best possible tactic to take when discussing Cliff’s origins, given that the next person to question Zane about his character used the phrase “Prince of Darkness” to describe him. Zane clarifies, however, that Cliff isn’t the Devil nor even a devil.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

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Expansions

Just a couple of items where some more information might be of interest.

* I linked yesterday to a Variety story reporting that James Cameron had signed with mega-agency CAA. Last night, however, ace gadfly muckraker Nikki Finke reported that it was merely a new camera technology developed for Cameron’s upcoming “Avatar” 3-D extravaganza, not Cameron himself, that the agency will be repping. In true Finkean style, she can’t resist taking a swipe at Variety in the process, though I guess it might be earned in this case.

Sigourney Weaver* On a more pleasant and actually interesting note, we have some news about Sigourney Weaver‘s upcoming projects, after discussing her — well, actually, Ellen Ripley — topping Total Sci-Fi’s list of female science fiction icons yesterday. For one thing, I didn’t realize until now Ms. Weaver is one of the stars of the aforementioned “Avatar” (as is Will Harris’s talented Facebook buddy Dileep Rao).

But that’s far from all, JA at The Film Experience is waxing enthusiastic over her possible casting (it’s not truly confirmed yet, I gather) in another sci-fi film, of sorts. “Paul” is to be directed by Greg Mottola of “Superbad” and “Adventureland” and written by and starring Simon Pegg and Nick Frost of “Shaun of the Dead,” “Hot Fuzz,” and “Spaced” fame. Apparently the film has something to do with a couple of British comic book geeks (Pegg and Frost) traveling cross-country from Comic-Con who meet up with Seth Rogen — I gather possibly animated or CGI’d or something — as an alien named, naturally, Paul at Nevada’s Area 51 (at least that’s how SlashFilm’s Paul Sciretta has it). It will also feature Bill Hader, Jane Lynch, Jason Bateman and Kristen Wiig.

Sounds pretty good, but JA was also good enough to mention another comedy casting for Ms. Weaver, this in “You Again,” which will star Kristin Bell, a particular favorite over here. As JA points out, it will re-team the high talented, geek-friendly Bell with director Andy Fickman, who elicited one of her most interesting performances in “Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical” back in 2005. At the risk of going off on a bit of tangent (and, by the way, just happening to mention my lengthy 2007 blog post on Fickman’s entertaining, though highly imperfect, movie), did you know that the former Veronica Mars can, as the Western codgers say, sing purty?

Don’t worry, she gets a lot less wholesome later on

  

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